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Rules Don’t Apply

Nearly twenty years after his last directorial effort, actor/director Warren Beatty returns with ‘Rules Don’t Apply’. Beatty has never been one to follow any rules except his own. This has made for a more interesting and diverse career with films such as ‘Bulworth’ and ‘Dick Tracy’. He’s been away from screen for too long as ‘Rules Don’t Apply’ shows. He’s lost none of his sparkle with his charismatic presence enlivening proceedings.

Marla (Lily Collins) is an aspiring actress wanting to make it in Hollywood. It’s 1958 and she thinks the world is her oyster. Under contract to movie mogul Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty), she arrives and meets his driver Frank (Alden Ehrenreich). Also a young person wanting to go places, Frank and Marla connect via their shared religious beliefs. Their faith and aspirations become sorely tested as Hughes’ eccentric ways drive them to the edge of Hollywood lunacy.

‘Rules Don’t Apply’ is a narratively mixed bag. At turns a romantic drama and then screwball comedy, it never settles on one genre. Perhaps this was meant to reflect Hughes’ mental state as his erratic behaviour is reflected on the uneven script. Using the young leads’ romance as an angle to explore Hughes’ fragile demeanour which he uses to manipulate people, the screenplay offers some interesting insights. It doesn’t always work but when it does it’s an occasionally engrossing study of power and madness.

Beatty’s direction is as unfocussed as the story although he brings the best out of his cast. His ensemble brings energy and gravitas to various situations even if some are wasted. Collins and Ehrenreich display genuine chemistry allowing for genuine investment in their roles. Beatty more or less plays himself with added psychosis showing his acting talents have undimmed with age. He is served well by the gorgeous cinematography and score successfully evoking a bygone era on American movie-making.

More of a patchwork of incidents than a cohesive whole, ‘Rules Don’t Apply’ suffers from poor narrative structure. It generates interest but not enough to make it memorable. It’s good seeing Beatty back on screen however and hopefully he won’t leave it too long to return for another cinematic outing.

Rating out of 10: 6

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

When the first ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ movie arrived in 2014, it came as a breath of fresh air. Until then, superhero movies had generally been rather dour affairs with several taking themselves far too seriously. A brighter and more fun antidote to those over-blown blockbusters, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ garnered praise for its wit and dazzling action. Based on the Marvel Comics series, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2’ picks up where things left off in colourfully fine style.

After saving everyone in their rag-tag manner, the group making up the Guardians travel the cosmos. They comprise Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saidana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper). In between battles, they seek to unravel their personal mysteries with Star Lord wanting to discover his true parentage, especially with his father Ego (Kurt Russell). Amidst their emotional upheavals they find time to save worlds even when bickering with each other.

Directed with flair by James Gunn’, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2’ is an enjoyable ride. More family friendly and sentimental than the last instalment, its’ chief purpose is to entertain. On that score it’s a complete success with Pratt and company settling into their roles. You feel like you are watching a genuine team who feel like a ‘family’ without the ghastly connotations the term means. Like any family, these characters squabble with the best of them but know how to unite when required.

‘Guardians 2’ provides a massive spectacle which is a feast for the eyes. The colour saturation is amazing, especially when viewed in 3D. Each scene bursts forth with a litany of rainbow-like vistas and sound. The CGI is great and the action scenes are splendid. None of this would count if the story or characters weren’t engrossing. Both allow you to fully invest in what’s happening and match the quality seen in all areas. Whilst the ending lays on the sentimentality a bit too much, ‘Guardians 2’ sets out to be a huge slice of entertainment and succeeds on all levels.

Comic book fans should enjoy this second instalment of the series. The story is simpler which allows the characters to fully develop. The more emotional script adds depth to the sparkling carry-on. It’s an impressive second go-around from Gunn who hopefully finds the energy to deliver a third outing of an always entertaining bunch of miscreants.

Rating out of 10: 8